Laura Daughtrey -
Richard Beck -
Jay R Ferguson
Alexsander Cirko -
OTHER SCI FI INVESTIGATIONS
Eleventh Hour (UK)
Eleventh Hour (US)
Something wierd is going on in the water. Kids messing about in a boat get spooked by something scary, a nuclear submarine is found drifting with no sign of its crew, a marine biologist studying volcanic vents on the ocean floor has her submersible nearly wrecked by a new form of life, the military take over her operation and one of the kids finds eggs not like any laid by anything previously known. Obviously, he takes one of these home and drops it into the fish tank. It hatches and sets off around the house. The official investigation is continuing with strange carcasses turning up on the beach. As the adult characters prepare to head off for the spot of the beaching, the government machine is told that there is evidence that this is not a natural phenomenon. The final shot is of hundreds of meteors falling into the sea.
Forgive the pun, but there must be something in the water. Alien invasion seems to be the order of the day. Whilst the THRESHOLD team are running around trying to catch alien altered crewmen, this show has the War of the Worlds happening in the water. A new show, INVASION is about to arrive as well. Anyway, this show has clearly read its CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND handbook. The government cover up operation is straight out of that film, as are the everyman characters that populate the story. One thing missing is the Spielberg touch.
This first Episode wasn't bad, there were even moments of tension and threat, but it all seemed a little underwhelming. Perhaps as the nature of the threat begins to be revealed, we might be able to get a little more involved.Top
Laura and Richard have travelled to the site of an alien beaching, but the military have everything under tight control and will not let them in. They buy and boat and sail in under cover of darkness, but find that the evidence is long gone. Laura opens up an eel and finds that it had been feeding on the carcass and so has some sample tissue to analyse, but finds that her bosses at the oceanographic institute have been manipulated into firing her. Meanwhile, the kid with the pet monster is having problems rearing it and when his sister throws a pool party in the absence of their parents, it inevitably escapes.
This Episode shows the influence of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND even more so than the first. The military operation to keep everyone away from the beached monster is a direct lift from the scenes where Spielberg's everyman characters were trying to get at the mountain. The pool party is a distraction mainly aimed at light relief, although it is this section that gives us our best look at the monsters. Whilst well realised, the baby monster really takes away from the threat posed by its adult counterparts. Fortunately, the last shot of the Episode shows the real size and power of the new arrivals.Top
Laura is fighting to get back into the game. She has come up with a DNA sample that proves the new animal is, at least partly, an extinct dinosaur. On top of that, she's located a recording of the creature's roaring. The government, however, aren't giving up their secrets that easily and have framed her for plagiarism in her thesis leading to a reassessment of her degree and making her all but unemployable and unable to pay the power bill. Miles is trying to train his baby monster, but finding that he is running out of flammable playhouses really fast. Richard is gradually falling apart as a result of his experiences. Oh and it seems that the creatures like to live in the magma and their appearances are allowing the heat to leak out into the ocean, causing a few problems such as lakes disappearing and geyers turning into volcanoes.
It's pretty hard to figure out just who SURFACE is aimed at. Miles and his attempts to tame his pet monster are aimed directly at the younger audience, but the scientific background of Cirko and his investigations and Laura's battle with the cover up are strictly for a more grown up audience. The two facets aren't gelling together too well at the moment.
Richard's breakdown has come out of nowhere, appearing in this Episode when there was no hint of it before. It also follows the pattern laid down in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND so close that deja vu just can't be avoided.
That said, the opening moments of the Episode are brilliant and the slowly emerging nature of the beasts is interesting. First they were sea creatures, then aliens, now extinct dinosaurs that can live in magma, like swimming in the sea and seem to be almost immune from harm.Top
Whilst holding down a job at a restaurant, Laura persuades an ex-boyfriend to take her looking for whales. What they find is one of the creatures that fries the electrics on the boat, but she still manages to get a gps locator locked onto it. She is now in a position to learn more about their habits than the government scientists who are starting to get worried about the fact that the world's oceans are seriously starting to heat up, something that could lead to global catastrophe.
Richard's marriage is another catastrophe. Now he is drawing pictures of strange holes that he believes are being described to him by his dead brother. His wife can't take it and leaves him. Then he finds out that the holes are real.
Miles isn't having too much luck with relationships either. His sister hates him, but one of her friends thinks he's cute. Before you know it, he's introducing her, and her pet poodle, to Nimrod.
OK, let's get one thing straight. I don't mind referencing of other works in a show, hey it can even be done in a good way, but if we had wanted to watch CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND we would have gotten out the DVD. Richard's story has gone beyond being similar to stealing whole scenes. I mean, all he needs now is to build a mountain in his living room and he is Richard Dreyfuss. One sequence even steals the location of Muncie, Indiana. Please stop it. Stop it now.
The other two strands of the plot are progressing quite nicely with Laura doing what she does best, marine biology. The Miles strand is good value, not least for the twist (and I mean the one just before the dog gets eaten).Top
When the creature that Laura has tagged comes in close to shore, she and Richard take off after it. They come into close contact and take loads of film, but the creature pulses and all electrical equipment is wiped. Now that's a handy little talent to have, perhaps a little too handy. The fact that she has acheived all this with no help makes Cirko decide that she needs to come inside the loop. Richard, though, seems destined to suffer for his belief that he is important to what is happening.
In the meantime, Miles isn't having too much fun either. Drastic action has to be taken to save Nimrod from the pet control people following its poodle-eating escapade. All of this ends up with the beastie running amok in a supermarket and Miles's parents more than a little upset with him.
The bulk of this Episode revolves around the adventures of Nimrod, which are fun enough, especially for younger audiences, but aren't exactly progressing the real story, which is what we are really interested in.
Laura and Richard are on the edge of a relationship, but one that is based on mutual need rather than any kind of trust, and Richard's strange behaviour isn't exactly helping his case. Nor is the fact that Cirko's offer means that Laura no longer needs him.
The characters' individual stories have moved on a little and there is more than enough incident to go around, but we can't help feeling a certain lack of urgency considering that that future of the planet seems to be at stake.Top
Cirko figures out the origin of the creatures and tells the security boys. He instantly winds up in hospital. His assistant follows him quickly enough, but not before he hands a key over to Laura. The government clearly has something to hide, something that they're willing to kill over. Miles, meanwhile continues to have problems, not least when his parents find out about Nimrod. That is nothing compared to the trouble caused when the animal control man sticks the beast with an electric shocker.
This was better from SURFACE. The pace is picking up some as the government goons start to get heavy. There is some real tension and the paranoia is mixed up with with some real threat. The playing is also better as the actors get something more to work with. The plot twists, also, are becoming more interesting for the older audience.Top
Armed with the information that Cirko's assistant managed to get to them before he died, Laura and Richard find a place to hide out and start trying to make sense of it all. Miles, in the meantime, is in big trouble. Following the frying of the dogcatcher last time, he is on the run with Nim and comes to the conclusion that the only safe course of action is to get the creature back in the water.
Following all the excitement of the last instalment, this week sees the action switch mainly to the story of Miles and his pet monster. On the run, he immediately steals a car and strikes off for the coast, the police only a step behind all the way. There is hope, by the end, that this strand of the story can now be allowed to just plain stop.
Laura and Richard look like they're about to build a home-made diving bell out of scrap to go diving into the sink holes. Well, it's not like this story was ever strong on that reality stuff.
And finally, we have to mention the sequence in which the man killing off all the scientists meets up with his employer, a man seen only in shadow and profile. Ooh spooky - not!Top
Miles is in big trouble. After his court appearance, he's doing months of community service. Following an impassioned plea by, of all people, his sister, that is transmuted to helping out at the local seaquarium where he finds, amongst other things, unfertilised eggs like the one that Nimrod came from. Richard and Laura have built their diving bell out of any old scrap (!) and it fails at depth. Richard things that he knows what's wrong, but they don't have time to test his repairs. Are they ready to risk their lives for what drives them?
The tone settling down a little, we follow Miles through his first day at the seaquarium, all of which is pretty but doesn't get us anywhere. Laura and Richard's story is now where it's at. That they can fashion a diving bell out of scrap is a stretch for the imagination, but that they can then furnish it with what appears to be all modern conveniences really takes it to the limit, especially as the cable breaks and we leave them falling into the sinkhole.
An then there's Lee, the man who is tracking them down and who is responsible for all the killing. Well he's human. We know this because he's given a deaf partner. Stage one of the humanising the villain to make him likeable in the end?
Whilst it's always risky to challenge lack of belief in the sci-fi/fantasy genres, there has to be some sense of possibility surely? SURFACE has skated beyond that into the land of barely entertaining hokum, even though the actors continue to do their best.Top
People are starting to get chewed up in the area of marshes where Miles released Nimrod. He tries desperately to signal the little critter to get him to come back, but some fisherman have him trapped in their ship and aren't treating him too nicely. He's also not looking too well. Laura and Richard really aren't having a good day. Having been left beneath the bottom of the ocean at the end of the last Episode they struggle to survive throughout this one. Laura doesn't want to die, but Richard is sure that this is where they were meant to be and is that really his brother he keeps seeing out of the porthole?
There are some real problems with this Episode and most of them are based around the increasingly bizarre Laura and Richard side of the story. Miles, to his credit, gets a sharp moment when he thinks he sees Nim and ends up being savaged by a whole pack of wild ones and that side of the story is becoming increasingly interesting.
Back to Laura and Richard, though. She sends the entire Episode whining that they are going to die, whilst Richard has reached some zen state where death would be welcome. Neither of them seem particularly interested in what is happening beyond the porthole with the creatures. This was what they came to see, but there really isn't a lot going on, to be frank. By the time they head back to the surface and into the teeth of a hurricane, nothing seems to have been acheived.Top
Miles is really starting to suffer as a result of the wounds that he was dealt by the baby monsters. When he collapses at school, he is rushed to hospital with a fever of life-threatening strength. It's possible that Nim could save him, but that could risk the creature's life.
Meanwhile Rich and Laura are on the surface, but things are still not going well. With no ship to rescue them, they have no water, no food, no protection from the heat of the day or the cold of the night. That's even before I mention the sharks and the huge monsters that are trying to eat every rescue vessel that comes their way.
Just when you think that this is going to be another humdrum Episode of this less-than exciting sci-fi nonsense, it pulls out the surprise tactic of offing little Nimrod. It's a moving moment that saves an Episode that was otherwise going nowhere. Perhaps now that Laura and Rich are back on the way to shore with the proof that they have been looking for and the local seaworld centre has a dead specimen of said creatures, things might start to move again.Top
Laura and Rich abscond from the hospital as soon as it becomes clear that the government stooges know they are there. They quickly arrange for copies of the tape to be put onto disc and onto the internet. Next stop is San Francisco where an old friend of Laura's agrees to put the tape on the show. The report, though, is not what they hoped for.
Things are also not going so well for Miles. Against all prediction (that's irony that is) Nim comes back to life and the institute starts to study him. Miles is quickly sidelined as the real scientists set about stealing his discovery. On the plus side, he's met a nice girl and seems to be affecting the local electricity supply himself.
This is a nice, solid Episode that moves the story along without getting too hung up on any one section of it. For once, the events seem pretty believable as they zip along. The truth is now out there. The question is, will anyone actually believe it?Top
The number of attacks on the public is growing as all of the creatures seem to be getting more violent, Nim included. Even Miles is not immune. He has other problems as his relationship with Caitlin continues to get closer despite his tendency to give off electric shocks. Laura and Rich are on the run from the goons that attacked them in the hotel, but they have a mysterious admirer, someone who seems to know all about the origin of the new species.
OK, it's time for logic to go on another holiday apparently as the SURFACE story gets a little more out there again. First off there is the mysterious helper who turns out to be a ditzy scientist who seems unable to get out a full sentence, but can get her hands on all kinds of false IDs etc. That the creature was the result of some sort of experiment gone wrong shouldn't come as a surprise, but what the hell was the fuss about all the lights falling from the sky at the end of the pilot. I don't mind red herrings, but that's just plain lying.Top
Rich & Laura use what she has learned to track down what they believe to be the shadowy corporation responsible for the creation of the new vertebrates. The trail leads to an abandoned facility where Rich is attacked by what appears to be a talking orangutan that was conveniently left behind. The scientist who revealed all this is confronted by Lee, who turns out to have been on the initial survey trip that started it all, back in the mid 1950s! Miles, on the other hand, is conflicted about Nim, following the killings and tags him so that he can lead the authorities to the others. When they drive them all to shore, a battle begins, one that the humans cannot win. Miles decides what he now must be.
SURFACE just got interesting again. Or, at least, half interesting. Whilst Rich and Laura's search for the truth gets ever more ridiculous (if a talking orangutan isn't ridiculous, the fact that no-one noticed that they left it behind is), the Miles strand is gradually becoming more subtle and involving. His conflict over using Nim to kill the creatures is well-done and the final decision he makes over the battle between two species is what makes us want to come back next time.Top
Rich and Laura want answers, so they take Lee prisoner and Rich gives him a bit of a talking to. He doesn't take the news well that he is, in fact, a clone of the original Lee. Rich heads off to check out a corporation called Iderdex and is immediately captured. Laura tries to reconnect with her son, something that her husband doesn't want to happen. Miles has an encounter with a bully and finds that he is no longer the meek and mild mannered Miles he used to be, something that raises a vigilante mob against him. Only the news that the creatures have been messing with the earth's surface under the ocean and a tsunami of incredible size is heading straight for them allows him to escape.
Well, if you wanted incident, it has finally come to SURFACE. Iderdex is apparently storing the dna of millions of species and taking them somewhere safe, but why? Have the creatures been created simply to destroy the planet so that these species can be reintroduced to a new, fresh world? The human story is just about over and the spectacle is about to begin.Top
The tsunami is coming and everyone is trying to get out, not least Rich who is locked up in a place where the water will hit hard. The only person trying to get into the area is Laura, who is searching for Rich following her failure to get her son back. Miles does get out, but then has to go back because Caitlin is ambushed and left injured. Finally, Rich, Laura, Miles and Nim meet, just is time for the wave to hit and a new world to be created.
The story has been told and now it's all about destruction on a scale that is likely to get everyone watching a second series. The plot is played out at full pelt with barely time to take a breath, which is just as well considering all the inconsistencies, but none of that matters now. This is about the destruction of Wilmington, North Carolina and whether or not our heroes will survive.Top
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